Clink! Clink! Chink! A hammer struck the chisel with the precision of a practiced hand. The artisan stepped back to examine his work. He squinted then leant in and flicked at a piece of marble but it didn’t budge. He reached back to his trolley and picked out a smaller chisel. He angled the edge to take off the flaw. A deft tap with the hammer was all it took to reveal the perfect shape beneath. He stepped back again brushing away a stray greying hair. Age had started to drain the colour from his once dark flowing locks. There were now streaks of grey but they only seemed to enhance his rugged features. A couple of day’s growth darkened his face that was otherwise covered in a fine dust from his work.

‘Michelangelo! Come and eat!’ A woman’s voice rang out from another room.

‘Coming, my dove!’ Michelangelo looked at his creation one last time and put his tools down and left the room.

A stillness fell over the room. The dust that filled the space started to settle. A bird flew in an open window and landed on the outstretched arm of the marble figure. The bird walked up and down the arm and then onto the shoulder. The inquisitive creature began to examine the unfinished ears and hair of the head. A crease formed on the brow of the face that wasn’t there before. Slowly, some dust started to fall off the head as it turned toward the bird. The head pursed its unfinished lips and as if trying them out for the first time breathed a quiet ‘Shoo’. The bird carried on unfazed by this slight interruption and hopped around to the ear and started pecking.

Again, this time with a bit more fluidity, the statue turned to the other side and a little louder breathed ‘Shoo!’

The bird paused, cocked its small head to one side and carried on as if nothing unusual had happened. The little bird hopped down the hand and left a runny, white deposit on it, then flew away. The statue returned to his original position. That afternoon, just as the sun was setting, the bird returned but this time with a couple of twigs. It set about arranging them into a nest. The face on the statue was a picture of rage as he turned to see the bird desecrating his outstretched hand.

As the bird returned time and again, each time building more and more of the nest the statue had begun to formulate a plan. The picture on his face turned from rage to malice as night time finally began to close in. The bird was settled and resting when the other hand of the statue came flying down upon the little nest with such fury that the little creature exploded into a puff of feathers and sticks. The statue quickly brushed the mess away onto the ground below and resumed his original position.

Hearing the ruckus, Michelangelo rushed into his workshop and stood, bewildered, at the entrance. He called back to the other room,

‘Alessandra! Fetch the broom!’